Photo by Chad Runge / Creation Swap

Saturday, July 9, 2016


Picture by Julie Ayers

What is good? What is bad? Who determines these things?

We live in a time when what seems good is no longer.

Morals. Ethics. Principles. Character.

These are concepts that are long forgotten in our current climate. The Bible warned us of this. Isaiah 5:20 says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

The question is what is good? Obviously, good can be a relative term. God’s Word tells us that none are good and all have sinned. Romans 3 goes into great detail about this. But basically the gist is that only God is good. People on the other hand, not so much.

So when we’re talking about what or who is good, it’s more about people who seek to do what is right in God’s eyes. Essentially, good is a characteristic of God and He imputes His goodness onto mankind.

Is it possible for people who don’t know God or want God in their lives to do good? Yes. God has given each of us as human beings a conscience. This is a distinguishing feature in each person that helps us to make choices between right and wrong. But that’s primarily because God is present in the world. A more in-depth discussion about this was written by Aron Wall. It’s worth noting, though, that God is the center of all that is good and He is the One who created us and brought goodness into this world.

So, as we grow into adulthood, we mature and make choices and are ultimately accountable for those choices. Sometimes those consequences are immediate. Other times they may not show up for years. Although it may not be a hard and fast rule, those who push God away are generally those who slowly fall away from doing good. In some instances, they may even begin to call what is evil good.

That is the problem we have in this sinful world. More and more people are not drawn to what is good and right but to wickedness. John 3:19-20 tells us, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.”

Who will disagree that we are seeing this today? It’s bad enough that the world seems more corrupted and dark than ever before. But now we see people distort what is good and evil. In twisting the reality of these terms, people in general are unable to distinguish what is real anymore. What happens then is that Isaiah 5:20 comes to life and people begin calling what is evil good, and what is good evil.

There are many examples of this that come to mind.

There are good people who disagree with sinful lifestyles and are essentially being harassed by society and the government because of their convictions.

There are sinful people who force others to accept their views and behaviors through whatever means necessary.

And then there are those who are guilty of serious crimes but are given a pass because they are highly powerful and influential.

Up is down, down is up. No wonder people are confused today. People are forced to live outside the realm of what should be “normal”. But what is normal? Normal should uphold morals. Normal should promote ethics. Normal should value principles. Normal should pursue character.

Normal, however, is being redefined by godless people in our culture. People are being told that a man with the physical characteristics and anatomy of a male can actually identify as a woman. People are being told that violent men who are raised within the Islamic religion and traditions are not really associated with Islam when they commit jihad and kill hundreds of innocent people. People are being told that climate change is the greatest threat the world faces when in reality we see how abortion kills millions each year, how Islamist terrorism is on the rise, and how domestically, angry citizens use race as a means to amp up murder sprees throughout the country.

Again, the Bible warns us that we will encounter problems such as these in our culture. God anticipated that we would experience a culture that we wouldn’t understand. It seems counter to the way things are supposed to be. We live in a world that is antagonistic toward good and righteousness. We live in a world that is self-serving and wants nothing to do with God and our Creator. Scripture tells us that before Jesus returns, this is the way the world would be.

1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.

We live in a world that is increasingly distorted and confusing. There is, however, truth and reality found in the God and Creator of the heavens and earth. Through the Apostle Paul, God gives us a prescription in how to deal with this kind of distorted reality.

10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Paul lays out the prescription in verses 14-16. He tells us that it’s through knowing God’s Word that we can discern right from wrong, good from bad, and moral from immoral. If we study God’s Word, we can know how to navigate through the misinformation the world gives us. Scripture teaches us how to be wise and how to live. Scripture teaches us the truth about morals, ethics, principles, and character. God’s Word is the true source of how to apply these concepts.

In effect, God describes right and wrong by providing us specific characteristics and contrasting them in Galatians 5.

The Bad
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

The Good
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

The world will continue in its decline and will only get worse. The culture will continue to push God away. Why? Because if they allowed God in the course of their discussions, in the middle of their lives and circumstances, they would have to face the ugly truth about the sin they adamantly embrace.

Truth is an amazing thing. It brings clarity to what is wrong in the world. The world wants to keep people from knowing the truth so it continually provides obstacles from people knowing it. That may be why so many atheists are trying to scream “separation of church and state” when they push against God and Christianity.

Our hope, however, in not in this world. Our hope is in a living Savior, in the person of Jesus Christ. If we want to know the truth, it’s Jesus that we seek. In fact, the Bible tells us that Jesus is the Truth. John 14:6, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”

The world will continue to disappoint, distort, and mislead. But Jesus offers us hope for a future with Him instead. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

Yes, the world will continue down this spiral of pursuing evil. And they’ll even call evil good and vice versa. But you don’t have to follow that pattern. We have a choice. We can choose the world’s way or we can choose God’s. God’s will is that we would seek Him with all our hearts. And the good? God will reveal the Truth of Jesus to us and we can finally know what is truly good and do it.